The Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation recently announced recipients of its Response and Recovery Fund grants.
The grants, totaling $115,000, went to seven west suburban nonprofits, including: Leyden Family Service, Children’s Research Triangle, Taller de Jose, the Oak Park-River Forest Chamber of Commerce, the Oak Park Area Arts Council, the Oak Park Regional Housing Center, and the Farmworker and Landscaper Advocacy Project.
Tony Martinez Jr., Community Foundation president and CEO, said this most recent round of grants included organizations that provide mental health services, rent and utility assistance, vaccine education, and support for minority-owned businesses and arts organizations.
“The vaccination effort has allowed many in our community to get out and enjoy something close to pre-pandemic normal, but many others continue to struggle, and the long-term effects of the pandemic era are yet to be understood,” Martinez said.
The Rapid Recovery and Response Fund was launched in 2020 with a $50,000 investment from the Community Foundation “to provide desperately needed dollars to agencies fighting to provide daily, ongoing support to our most vulnerable neighbors: those struggling with food insecurity, permanent housing, and health concerns,” foundation officials explained in a statement released July 26.
In 2020, the 700 Block of Bonnie Brae’s LemonAid charity drive raised $30,000 for the fund, as well as over $500,000 “in a match challenge by longtime Oak Parkers Ken and Patty Hunt. The fund also received $250,000 from the Illinois COVID-19 Response Fund.”
“These grants could never have happened if it wasn’t for the heartfelt generosity of so many community members,” Martinez said.
Community Foundation announces new board member, leadership
The OP-RF Community Foundation announced in a statement released July 12 that Bruce Wojack and Kelly Turner are the new chair and vice-chair of the board of directors. In addition, the board welcomed its newest member, Ana Garcia Doyle.
Wojack, who lives in Oak Park, is a senior vice president and wealth strategist at The Northern Trust and a former trust specialist with Merill Lynch. Wojack is also co-chair of the Professional Advisory Committee of the Chicago Community Trust, as a member of the Chicago Estate Planning Council, and is past president of the River Forest Tennis Club, foundation officials explained in the statement.
“I am proud and impressed by the leadership role the Community Foundation took during the COVID-19 lockdown in creating the Rapid Response and Recovery Fund to get resources to local organizations quickly and without fanfare,” Wojack said. “One of my goals as board chair is to raise awareness of the foundation and the initiatives it is undertaking to support individuals and organizations in western Cook County.”
Turner, who lives in Oak Park, is senior counsel with the American Arbitration Association (AAA) in its Chicago regional office. Before that, she worked for more than 19 years at the full-service international law firm of Locke Lord LLP. Turner is also on the board of directors of the Oak Park-River Forest Infant Welfare Society.
Doyle, has a professional background in digital marketing and publishing, is the co-founder and executive director of One Earth Collective, an Oak Park-based environmental nonprofit that produces the One Earth Film Festival.
She lives in Oak Park and has also been in involved in environmental sustainability initiatives at District 97 schools.
“I am thrilled and humbled to be a part of the Community Foundation board,” Doyle said. “I think the work being done now is critical — not just substantively but as a model of how organizations with a long legacy can build on that legacy to effect change.”
Each Community Foundation board member serves a 3-year term.
“The 2021 board of directors is grateful to its outgoing members, Cuyler Brown, John Hedges, Phillip Jiménez, Barbara Rohm Rossa and Eric Weinheimer, for their years of service, and for their unwavering dedication to improving the lives of community residents,” foundation officials said.